If you’ve attended any of our previous trauma trainings, you know that psychological trauma is any negative event that overwhelms a person’s ability to cope. We defined coping is a person’s ability to show up and perform their roles, meet their responsibilities, and create and maintain healthy relationships.
We previously defined racialized trauma as psychological overwhelm that arises from the negative events people experience and are more likely to experience because of race and racism. Just like with general psychological trauma experiencing racism can overwhelm a person’s ability to cope. Racialized trauma further affects a person’s ability to show up and meet their obligations.
Responding sensitively to any trauma, requires that relationship partners accept that a person’s past can influence their current behavior. It’s difficult to accept that adults are still affected by what happened to them in childhood. Sometimes, it can be a challenge to accept that the past is the foundation for the present.
Accepting that racism is real, does not mean you are racist…it means you can clearly see that “Houston, we have a problem.”
American society especially is rooted in the value of grit, being tough, and being able to take a hit and keep on ticking. Do you remember that old watch commercial? While that type of resilience can work for people most of the time, it’s not the reality for every person and every hardship they experience. People can be so profoundly affected by what happens to them … the first time…or the hundredth time.
People do experience vicarious trauma from what happens to others in their racial group. Recent surveys with Black Americans show that their mental health has been affected by seeing and hearing about police shootings of Black people. Teachers are affected by watching Black students be more harshly disciplined in schools. Asian Americans and Indian Americans are affected by the stereotype of them being “model minorities.” A recent survey revealed that Black American employees and other non-white workers are stressed about returning to predominately white in-person workplaces because of the things their colleagues say and do that are racially insensitive and are resistant to feedback.
Those truths…that data…that feedback…is difficult to hear because we as a nation are still grappling to accept that racism isn’t a thing of the past…many of us struggle to accept that racism IS a current issue. The data tells us, we are NOT post-racial. People’s lived experiences prove that we are not colorblind.
It’s difficult to accept that racial trauma is real because we haven’t accepted that children and adults are profoundly affected by the mistreatment they experience because of their race.
Trauma informed care is about helping people feel seen, heard, supported, and connected while they cope with overwhelming adversity…regardless of their race.
If you cannot accept that racism is real, you cannot accept the impact of racism. Racism causes racial trauma. If you cannot accept that racism is real, you would see no need to adjust your behavior. You wouldn’t feel responsible to hold others accountable….for the jokes…the intrusive questions…the racially insensitive social media memes that are shared…how coworkers are talked to or talked about.
Accepting that racism is real, does not mean you are racist…it means you can clearly see that “Houston, we have a problem.” Then, we can begin the work of healing the racial trauma. Then we can decrease the prevalence of racism and the racial trauma it causes. Trauma informed care is about helping people feel seen, heard, supported, and connected while they cope with overwhelming adversity…regardless of their race.
To learn more about the trauma-informed and equity-focused work at Youthcentrix Therapy services, visit us online at www.youthcentrix.com.
Youthcentrix provides allied and behavioral health services to individuals, consulting to organizations and a learning lab to accelerate your mastery of trauma informed and equity-focused practices.
Our Master Trauma Informed Practices Accelerator Program is open for enrollment in schools and healthcare organizations. Enroll your school or healthcare organization though out website.
If you are a business leader interested in bringing trauma informed care and diversity, equity, inclusion and antiracism (DEIA) to your organization reach out to Denise Long by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We are ready and able to meet your professional development needs.